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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/disproportionate-harm/dh-003-04

Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/disproportionate-harm/dh-003-04
Last-Modified: 1997/01/14
Source: Department of Justice Canada B'nai Brith Data

The best data available on the incidence of hate crimes of
a particular category  in Canada come from the League for
Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada. These statistics have
been compiled for over a decade now, and are publicly
available in the  annual "Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents".
Since the same definitions (and criteria for  inclusion)
have been used over this period, and the same mechanisms
employed to  record incidents, this data base provides a
unique historical record of hate crimes in  Canada over the
past 13 years. The B'nai Brith database is therefore a
vital resource  for anyone wishing to know more about the
incidence of hate crimes. These data are restricted to
incidents of anti-semitism. However, anti-semitic hate
crimes constitute  one of the principal hate crime targets
in Canada, and the principal hate crime target in other
jurisdictions as well. The B'nai Brith data are presented
separately in this report  because they are qualitatively
different from the statistics recorded by the police
(although some of the incidents recorded by the B'nai Brith
will presumably have also been reported to the police).
Incidents included in the database are classified either as
episodes of vandalism or harassment. The annual document
describes the former as:

     an act involving physical damage to property. It
     includes  graffiti, swastikas, desecrations of
     cemeteries and synagogues,  other property damage,
     arson and other criminal acts such as  thefts and
     break-ins where an ant. semitic motive can be
     determined (League for Human Rights, 1995: 3).
     "Harassment" includes "anti-semitic hate propaganda
     distribution, hate mail and verbal slurs or acts of
     discrimination against  individuals. Death threats and
     bomb threats against individuals  " and property, as
     well as any kind of physical assault" (League for
     Human Rights, 1995: 3).

It is clear then, that the B'nai Brith data are more
inclusive than hate crime  statistics gathered by the
police. Some of the incidents that are included in the
B'nai Brith database would not be considered crimes, even
though the social harm may be as  great or greater than a
crime, and the acts may be even more morally reprehensible.
  The B'nai Brith data
provide a broader insight into hate-motivated behaviour
than can  be obtained from police reports. For this reason,
the B'nai Brith data will be referred  to as hate activity
incidents, rather than crimes, per se.

Before describing recent trends in anti-semitic incidents,
it is worth making a  few observations about the B'nai
Brith statistics. First, these incidents are primarily the
result of reports by victims themselves. This differs from
police statistics, where a higher proportion are likely to
arise from witnesses. Second, not all reports result in  an
entry in the annual Audit. The League for Human Rights
conducts a thorough investigation of each incident in order
to establish that anti-semitism was indeed the underlying
motivation. Third, an attempt is made to ensure
comparability from year to  year, so that the database is
unaffected by changing thresholds of proof. The criteria
for inclusion have been constant since the Audit was
established in 1982. In this sense, on a national level the
B'nai Brith statistics are purer than criminal justice
statistics which, as noted earlier, use variable
definitions of what constitutes a hate  crime. Finally, it
is important to point out that, as with police statistics,
the B'nai  Brith data represent but a fraction of incidents
of anti-semitism in this country. For a number of reasons,
a great deal of anti- ;emitism passes unrecorded by either
the police or B'nai Brith. When the 1994 Audit reports 290
incidents, it should not be taken that  this represents
anything other than a fraction of the true total of anti-
semitic incidents  across  Canada.

Table 16 provides a breakdown of anti-semitic incidents
recorded by the  League for Human Rights since 1982.
Several trends are apparent from this table. First, there
has been a steady increase in the recorded number of anti-
semitic incidents over the decade, rising from 63 in 1982
to almost 300 in 1994, the most recent year for which data
are currently available. Second, harassment incidents have
accounted for approximately two-thirds of all incidents
over the entire period. Third, there has been a dramatic
increase in the number of incidents recorded in recent
years. Thus there were 196 incidents recorded in 1992. The
total for 1994 was 290, which  represents an almost 50
percent increase in two years. These data underline the
fact that anti-semitism is clearly a social problem in

Table 17 makes it clear that incidents of anti-semitism
reported to and recorded by the League for Human Rights are
concentrated in three principal cities: Montreal,  Toronto
and Ottawa. Together these cities account for over 80
percent of the incidents of anti-semitism in Canada that
are captured by this database. There are several possible
explanations for this finding. These three cities have
large Jewish  communities. This increases the number of
potential targets. As well, awareness of  the League for
Human Rights Audit may be greater in these cities, thereby
increasing the likelihood that a victim will contact the
B'nai Brith. Hate Crimes Directed at Gays and Lesbians

The second non-criminal justice source of data drawn upon
in this report concerns hate-motivated crimes directed
against gays and lesbians. The research  literature in
other jurisdictions makes it clear that gays and lesbians
are a prime target for hate-motivated crimes, and have been
for many years. In addition, gay and lesbian victims are
probably less likely to report to the police than any other
group. For this  reason, a portrait of hate crime incide
Its in Canada would be inadequate without some information
about crimes directed against gays and lesbians. The data
provided  in this report are far from exhaustive; they
derive from organizations in two major  cities: Toronto and
Montreal. They are provided to give an indication of the
scope of the problem within the gay community.


The principal source of information about hate crimes in
Toronto is the 519  Church St. Community Centre. One of the
activities of this community centre was the creation, in
1990, of a "Gay and Lesbian Bashing Hotline". A
confidential report is completed about all calls to this
line. This information is then communicated to the police
for further investigation. The line is available during the
Centre's opening hours. In mid-November 1994, the Centre
hired a full-time Trainer and Educator for the Victim
Assistance Program. This individual currently processes all
the reports  made to the line. As well, she trains
volunteers to handle incoming reports. The line is now
known as the Lesbian and Gay Bashing Reporting and
Information Line.  Two caveats are worth making regarding
these data. First, it is important to note that, as with
police statistics, these data do not capture the all the
incidents of  anti-gay activity taking place in Toronto.
The majority of incidents are, for a variety of reasons,
reported neither to the hotline nor the police. Second,
these data -- like the British Crime Survey data (but
unlike the police statistics) -- consist of reports of
incidents in which the victim reports the hate motivation.
It is possible that some of these incidents involve crimes
that were not motivated by hatred of gays or lesbians, but
were seen that way by the victim. 

Over 90 percent of the calls to the Toronto hotline were
made by gay men. However, this statistic should not be
taken to suggest that lesbians are significantly less
likely to be the target of harassment or assault on the
grounds of their sexual orientation. Although no direct
evidence is available in Canada, research in other
countries suggests that the nine to one ratio represents a
differential willingness to report incidents to either a
hotline or the police and that, in fact, lesbians are
almost as likely to be the target of hate-motivated crimes
as gay men.

Table 18 presents a breakdown of incidents reported to the
hotline over the period January 1, 1990 to April 1, 1995.
As can be seen, there is a high incidence of physical
assault: almost half (46 percent) of the incidents involved
some form of physical assault. Almost a third of incidents
involved some form of verbal harassment, while 15 percent
of reports involved a threat of some form. Less than 10
percent were hate-motivated cases of vandalism or theft. A
further 12 reports were made concerning reports of assaults
against gays by police officers (these are not included in
Table 18). Some indication of the gravity of the incidents
reported to the hotline can be found in Table 19, which
provides a breakdown of the 50 percent of respondents who
reported some form of injury. All respondents reported
bruising of some kind, with almost one in five reporting a
fracture (percentages exceed 100 percent due to multiple
responses). Of the 22 cases of head injuries, one-third
resulted in concussion. These data suggest that crimes of
violence directed against gays and lesbians involve a
greater degree of injury than the average assault. The
revised U.C.R. survey contains information on the severity
of assaults reported to the police across Canada. Recent
statistics show that of all assaults reported involving a
male victim, major injuries were involved in fewer than one
case in ten reported to the police (see Roberts, 1994c:
83). This is also consistent with research in the United

The majority of these incidents (53 percent) had not been
reported to the police. Approximately 40 percent had been
reported to the police, while a further three individuals
planned to report the incident. This information was
unavailable for 14 cases (no information are directly
available on why individual victims did not report the
incident). The fact that most incidents had not been
reported to the police explains, in part, why such a small
number result in official action by the criminal justice
system. Of the 239 reports recorded by the hotline, only
104 were reported to the police. Of these, charges were
laid in 8 cases, and convictions recorded in only 2 cases.
Convictions are recorded in a very small percentage of
crimes committed.

However, the data from the 519 Church Street Toronto
Hotline suggest that a much smaller percentage of hate
crimes result in a conviction. Recent data from Statistics
Canada show that on average, a conviction is recorded in
approximately one crime in  twenty. The percentage of hate
crimes resulting in a conviction is clearly much smaller.

An analysis of calls to a hotline is no substitute for
systematic research. For obvious reasons, such calls are
likely to represent a somewhat distorted image of  violence
against the gay community. Nevertheless, in the absence of
more rigorous research, this source of information is the
best available. However, superior data relating to anti-gay
incidents in Toronto will soon be available. In 1995, the
519  Church Street Community Centre conducted a survey of
the gay and lesbian community in Toronto. The questionnaire
contained a number of in-depth questions  relating to
harassment and physical and verbal abuse. Since it was a
survey, and not an analysis of calls to a hotline, the
responses are likely to give a far more accurate image of
anti-gay violence in the Toronto Community. 


Unfortunately, statistics on hate crimes in Montreal are
restricted to the police data. The only non-criminal
justice data come from a study conducted by the Table de
concertation des lesbiennes et des gais du Grand Montreal.
This study was conducted A over a three-month period in
1993. It was discontinued only as a result of a lack of
resources. Over the period covered there were 54 reported
incidents. However, some  e of these reports (as with other
victimization surveys) concerned incidents that took  place
prior to the period covered by the survey. Accordingly, it
is impossible to draw conclusions about the numbers of
incidents, and whether the rate of anti-gay crime is higher
in Montreal than Toronto. However, the data are useful for
providing  information on the nature of the crimes. The
Montreal statistics confirm the picture  emerging from
Toronto. Thus, over half the incidents involved violence.
In fact, acts of aggression were the most frequent category
of incident reported. Almost all (83  percent) of the
victims were gay men. Almost half the incidents resulted in
physical trauma, and one-quarter resulted in material loss
of some kind.

These data support the findings from other jurisdictions
which show that crimes of hate directed against the gay
community are more likely to involve violence, or the
threat of violence, than hate crimes directed at other

Before leaving the Montreal data it is worth noting that
evidence exists in that city of the most extreme form of
hate crime. In December 1992, two gay men were murdered by
groups of teenagers, and since then there have been several
more such incidents. Over the period 1988 to 1995, thirty
gay individuals have been murdered under conditions that
strongly suggest a homophobic motivation. In March, 1995,
The Globe and Mail reported the murder of Quebec actor
Richard Niquette, who was stabbed to death by men who
preyed on homosexuals. The Globe noted that he was the
"19th gay man to be killed under similar circumstances in
the past four years" (Globe and Mail, March 3, 1995). This
most extreme form of hate crime, which can provoke
widespread alarm among members of the community, clearly
requires a vigorous response from the criminal justice
system, beginning with the police. Finally, it should be
noted that some respondents in both cities reported acts of
aggression by police officers. These remain unsubstantiated
at present, and until evidence is adduced to substantiate
them it would be unwise to judge the officers concerned.
However, acts of aggression by police officers are
obviously far more serious than similar crimes by civilians
as they undermine public confidence and reduce still
further the likelihood that these crimes will be reported
to the criminal justice system.

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